Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Duck Confit Parmentier

I can cross one thing off of my Foodie Bucket List.  I made duck confit this week!  I love roasted duck and duck confit. Whenever I'm in a restaurant that serves duck, I will order it but I've rarely made duck myself and never have I made duck confit.

Don't run away if you don't like duck.  I think this recipe would be perfectly adaptable to roasted chicken thighs or even the dark meat from your Thanksgiving turkey. Parmentier is a French version of Cottage or Shepherd's Pie.  Comforting and oh, so delicious.


The driving force behind this recipe was the cookbook that I won from Penny at Lake Lure Cottage....The utterly gorgeous new cookbook from the blogger Mimi Thorisson ( called A Kitchen in France. Thank you, Penny! I love this cookbook! 

I had fully expected to buy already made duck leg confit at a store in town that I know sells them (I believe Whole Foods and Trader Joes do occasionally have it also) but then I remembered a poultry specialty store in Milwaukee called Tower Chicken that sells duck legs and now, rendered duck fat as well at a very reasonable price compared to the more well-known kitchen specialty shops.

I'm so happy I tried making my own because I know I will make it again. I'd love to try a cassoulet with duck confit next, although my husband would eat the duck leg confit on its own anytime. 

The recipe for the duck layer is so delicious too with onions, shallots and red wine and then topped with a lovely layer of seasoned Parmesan mashed potatoes. 

I served a simple side of French green beans sauteed with thyme sprigs...

and we drank a glass of Côtes du Rhône, which was also used to make the duck layer. Again, feel free to substitute any dark meat poultry in this recipe.  Even a rotisserie chicken would work!

Although I made my duck confit with purchased duck fat, click here for a very easy recipe for duck confit from Melissa Clark at Food 52.  I used her seasonings but roasted using the method I found on Epicurious. I'm planning on using Melissa Clark's easy method next time to see how they compare. Mimi Thorisson's method can be found on her website here.  


Since this will be my last post until after Thanksgiving, I would like to wish everyone who celebrates a very wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving!

Duck Confit Parmentier

Adapted from A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson
Printable Recipe

Serves 4

For the Duck Layer:

4-5 duck confit legs, either store-bought or homemade (other dark meat poultry may be substituted, if desired)
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup dry red wine

For the mashed potato layer:

2-1/2 to 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream (or creme fraiche)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make the duck layer, remove the skin and bones from the duck legs and shred into small pieces.

In a large saute pan, over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the onion and shallots until light gold and tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Add the shredded duck meat and parsley and saute for another 2 minutes. Pour in the red wine and simmer to reduce slightly. About 5 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish or oven proof skillet so that the duck layer takes up about 1/3 of the height of the dish or pan. Set aside.

To make the mashed potato layer, place the peeled potatoes in a pot. Cover with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and either pass throw a potato ricer back into the pot or use a regular potato masher. I prefer using a potato ricer for a smoother texture. Add the butter, sour cream or creme fraiche and grated Parmesan cheese and mash until blended. If too stiff, add milk, a little at a time to make spreading easier.

Top the duck mixture with the mashed potatoes and flatten the potatoes with a fork to make an even layer. I used a piping bag fitted with large star tip to pipe the mashed potatoes over the duck.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven until the potatoes are golden brown, about 25 minutes or so.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Apple Cake with Toffee and Caramelized Apples

If you are more of a cake person than a pie person, this could be the perfect Thanksgiving dessert for you.  I tested this recipe on my family this past weekend and there was already talk of messing with tradition this year.  Heresy, I know, but understandable after you taste this cake.

The apple cake is first baked then drizzled with a toffee glaze while still warm.  Toothpick holes poked in the cake help the glaze sink deep into the cake and flavor it with warm, toffee-flavored goodness creating a toffee 'crust' on the bottom when it cools. 

If that doesn't sound delicious enough, the cake is served with warm toffee sauce, caramelized apples and vanilla ice cream. Exclamation point. 

This is one delicious cake! 

Since National Bundt Day is coming on November 15th , I baked the cake in one of my traditional Bundt pans rather than the spring form pan with tube center stated in the recipe.  It worked perfectly.  There is a National Bundt Day gathering at my friend Cuisine Kathleen's place on November 12, so if you're looking for more Bundt cake inspiration, stop over on Wednesday night.

I have a few more Bundt recipes for you on my side bar ---------------------->>>>>

Apple Cake with Toffee and Caramelized Apples

Note:  I  reduced the original 2 cups of sugar in the cake to 1-1/2 cups and think it could even be reduced to 1 or 1-1/4 cup since the cake was still fairly sweet.

SERVINGS: 10 to 12
(See Do-Ahead Instructions at the End)

For the Cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (I used Safflower Oil)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 large or 3 small Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and diced into ½” pieces)

For the Toffee Glaze:

1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Toffee Serving Sauce:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brandy

For the Caramelized Apples:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 large Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored and sliced into 8 wedges)
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons water

Serve with vanilla ice cream

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Butter and flour a traditional Bundt pan (I sprayed with Baker's Joy instead).

Whisk the flour, salt and baking soda together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the oil and granulated sugar until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending thoroughly. Then, add the dry ingredients about a cup at a time and blend until smooth. Fold in the diced apples with a rubber spatula. Scrape the batter into prepared Bundt pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (My cake only took 1 hour). Let cool slightly.

While the cake is cooling slightly, combine the butter, cream and brown sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat while stirring. Remove the toffee glaze from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Place the warm cake (still in its pan) on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour the hot glaze over the cake and let it seep into the cake, poking gently with a toothpick (I also tiled the pan from side to side). Then, allow the cake to cool completely, about 2-1/2 hours. Invert the cake onto a serving platter.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over high heat while stirring. After the sauce is boiling, use a moistened pastry brush and wash down any sugar crystals on the side of the pan. The, cook without stirring until a medium-amber caramel forms.  This will take about 5-7 minutes so watch carefully so that it does not burn. Remove from the heat and quickly but very carefully stir in the cream and butter (the sauce will bubble up). Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the sauce for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the brandy. Allow to cool slightly and pour the toffee sauce into a pitcher.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and the brown sugar. Add the apples and cinnamon and cook over moderately high heat, turning the apples once or twice, until they are tender and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the water to dissolve the caramel in the skillet, then transfer the caramelized apples to a plate.

Slice the cake and serve with the caramelized apples, toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Do Ahead:

The unmolded cake can be stored overnight at room temperature wrapped in plastic wrap or foil. The toffee sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week and gently reheated before serving. The apples can be made 3 hours ahead and kept at room temperature.